According to a study released by TRM Labs, Russian paramilitary groups are using the messaging app Telegram to raise money in cryptocurrencies.
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A pro-Russian group is raising money in cryptocurrencies to support paramilitary operations and evade US sanctions as war with Ukraine progresses, an investigative report released Monday said. became clear.
As of Sept. 22, these fundraising groups had raised $400,000 in cryptocurrencies since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24, according to TRM Labs, a digital asset compliance and risk management firm. .
The study showed how groups using the encrypted messaging app Telegram sent funds that would be used to supply Russian-affiliated militia groups and support combat training close to the border with Ukraine. It became clear that we are providing people with
One of the groups TRM Labs has confirmed funding for is Task Force Rusich, which the US Treasury Department describes as “a neo-Nazi paramilitary group that fought alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.” The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFCA) has authorized Task Force Rusich.
TRM Labs discovered on its Telegram channel that the group is looking to fund items such as thermal imagers and radios.
The Novorossiya Aid Coordination Center, which was set up in 2014 to support Russia’s operations in Ukraine, has raised about $21,000 in cryptocurrency, mostly in Bitcoin, for the purpose of purchasing drones, reports say. says.
Russia has been hit with a number of sanctions following its gratuitous aggression earlier this year aimed at cutting Ukraine off from the international financial system. At the time, there were concerns that Russia could use cryptocurrencies to circumvent these penalties. But experts said there is not enough liquidity in a cryptosystem of the scale Russia needs to move money.
But the paramilitaries move money on a large enough scale for the items they need to purchase.
According to Ari Redbord, head of legal and government affairs at TRM Labs, these groups may be using exchanges that are not necessarily compliant with anti-money laundering and other regulations.
“They are probably using non-compliant exchanges to off-ramp those funds. [into fiat currency]” Redbord told CNBC.
“And you can do it, but you can’t do it on a large scale. And I think that’s where it’s at… Will there be more? Sure, there will be more. But will there? Billion dollars? Very unlikely.”
Redbord said TRM Labs used a combination of publicly available wallet addresses to cross-check other websites and online activity to identify groups associated with Russia. However, he said it was impossible to know whether these groups were working with the Russian government or were in some way supported by the Kremlin.
Cryptocurrencies are in the limelight during the war between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine seeks donations in digital coins that can be sent quickly around the world. However, it is now also used by Russian paramilitary groups.
“The interesting part of the story is that in these cases cryptocurrency is just a form of payment. It is a way of moving funds. There are examples of it being used for bad purposes,” Redboard said.